A teenager with plenty of time on his hands

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Picture the bedroom of a typical 18-year-old male and what do you see? Walls plastered with posters of scantily-clad young models, beer cans piled high on book cases and the furniture vibrating from hip-hop music blaring out of giant speakers?

Not in David Houiellebecq’s room. Far from being a typical teenage shrine to FHM’s High Street Honeys and the like, there’s barely any room for posters.

And instead of blaring out hip hop or house music, the Highlands College student’s bedroom is a shrine to horology – with every kind of clock you can imagine ticking and chiming away.

The sound would be enough to drive most people to distraction, but David wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 18-year-old is a passionate amateur watchmaker and in his spare time he restores all manner of clocks and timepieces, from mantle, carriage and cuckoo clocks, to wall-mounted Rolex clocks and grandfather clocks.

He owns up to 200 clocks – and 80 of them are constantly ticking away in his bedroom.

‘The oldest clock I have here is a Comtoise [a type of French grandfather clock] made in 1812 which I bought in an antique shop in town,’ he tells me.

Other notable clocks in his collection include a stylish white art deco example which he purchased at a vintage fair in St Aubin; an ornate gilt French mantle clock which would not have looked out of place in the Palace of Versailles, and a German Black Forest cuckoo clock.

‘There are two cuckoos inside, one which makes its signature sound every 15 minutes, and another that appears on the hour, every hour,’ he explains.

As for the most expensive clock in his possession?

‘That would be this Pearson Berwick,’ he says, pointing to an imposing oak grandfather clock which was made in the 1800s.

‘It is worth in the region of £2,500. It wasn’t worth that when I bought it, but I’ve since restored it.’

David often buys clocks that are in disrepair to do them up. To renovate these classic clocks, he strips them back to their component parts.

‘Sometimes people also bring clocks to me to repair and restore,’ explains David, who lives in St Peter with his parents Trevor and Carol, and 15-year-old brother Jacob.

‘I do a full service of the movement, which includes cleaning all the clock’s gears and components and I oil the parts where needed. Often you find woodworm and discolouration of the wood, so I take care of those things as well.’

David will be taking an entrance exam to the British school of watchmaking in Manchester in the autumn. Hettich Jewellers in Jersey have agreed to sponsor him in his studies at the school, where he will train to become a watch technician.

His ambition is to go on to become a fully qualified watchmaker, and he is already putting his skills to use helping to restore the clock at St Mark’s Church in town.

‘The chime train gears of the church’s clock have sheared away so myself and Neil McKenzie from Art Metal are in the process of fixing it,’ adds David, who is studying art and design at Highlands.

He is interrupted by a deep ‘dong’ sound. It turns out David has set up five of the 80 clocks in his bedroom to replicate the sound of London’s Big Ben.

‘They chime every 15 minutes to the sound of Big Ben. When I was little my dad used to work in London, and mum and I would visit him on an evening, passing by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the way. That sparked off my interest in clocks.’

He has built a scale model of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in his bedroom, complete with a mini scaffolding replica of the steel which is currently wrapped around Big Ben in London.

And David even has a large turret clock – 90 cm in diameter – attached to his window which lights up at night, for his neighbours to enjoy. ‘The dial lights up so that the clock face is illuminated at night.

‘Many members of the public in the area use the clock to check the time and they make sure to tell me if the time is ever a little out.’

David says he is so used to the sound of his clocks that he has no trouble sleeping, but how about the rest of his household?

‘I can always turn down the volume of the chimes if needed, but they have got used to them!’

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